With the regular season nearing a conclusion, the Chicago Blackhawks are gearing up for the playoffs, and to help in that process they have inked two of their prospects to NHL contracts.
The first domino fell on Sunday afternoon when the team announced it had signed forward John Hayden to a two-year contract. A third round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Hayden spent the last four seasons at Yale University, where he scored 21 goals and dished out 13 assists during the 2016-17 season.
If the Blackhawks had not signed Hayden to a contract, he could have potentially left Chicago as a free agent this summer, but the new deal ensures that he will be under contract through at least the end of next season and will only be a restricted free agent when the deal expires.
On Monday, the Blackhawks signed one of their other top prospects as Anthony Louis agreed to a deal. A sixth round pick of the team in 2013, Louis is a Miami (OH) product with great scoring touch and strong passing ability, as he scored 14 goals and dished out 25 assists for the Redhawks last season.
Hayden is expected to report to the Blackhawks and will likely get at least a few NHL games before the end of the season as the team looks to bolster their forward depth for the stretch run. Meanwhile, Louis is expected to report to the Rockford IceHogs, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude him from getting a look as well.
The Blackhawks will next be in action on Tuesday night when they take on the Montreal Canadiens in a road battle between Original Six franchises.